Marco Giampaolo has spoken to the press ahead of tomorrow’s game against Hellas Verona, explaining that his decisions are always based on the weekly work and nothing else.
After a very long international break, Milan finally return to the pitch tomorrow as they take on Hellas Verona at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi (20:45 CEST).
Even though only two Serie A games have been played until now, Giampaolo is already getting criticism from fans who don’t seem to like his choices so far. Today the coach, who joined the club in the summer from Sampdoria, faced the press and answered their questions.
“Good morning to all, the first thing I’d like to do is joining the rest of the Rossoneri family in sending condolences to Cafu for the loss of his son,” Giampaolo started.
“The work done over the international break, what kind of atmosphere I noticed around the team in the last couple of weeks and if the glass is half full right now? Over the last two weeks I’ve only coached about 7-8 players as the rest went to play for the national team. They’ve all worked hard, those who went to the national team got some match training, and the rest of the team has been working well and with enthusiasm. Everyone has trained hard until this morning.
“If the glass is half full then we’ll continue to work hard to make sure it’s fully full. Through hard work we’ll sort out many things, I’m sure of that. And it is the team that gives me this confidence because they do the things right and work well, and with enthusiasm. Things will be sorted out, the team will improve over time, I’m certain of that.
“I have a much better record than Milan in games after international breaks? I pay no attention to such statistics. Anytime there are international qualifications, whether it’s the World Cup or European competitions, there’s always a problem. I never really paid attention to these statistics, they’re more of a coincidence than anything else. I don’t think it makes the difference between winning and losing.
“If we can draw any conclusions from the first 60 days of Giampaolo at Milan? Like I said, we’ll work hard to fill that glass, I’m very happy with how the team engages in the project. At the moment I’m coaching 21 outfield players, 24 in general, and they are all fully committed to this club, to this project.
“Their enthusiasm and hard work gives me confidence, I know there’s a lot of work to do, and we need to bring the new arrivals into this project. For the moment I have to focus on making this team more united and cohesive. The team has to do very well in both phases of the game and we have to find the right balance between these two phases: attack and defense. I’m confident like I said, that over time we’ll continue to get better and do things better.
“The fact that the Derby is in one week and that Verona has never been an easy field for Milan to play at? Regarding the Derby, it’s always important to win, winning is always important regardless of what comes afterwards. The fact that Hellas Verona’s stadium is particular for Milan does not really matter. I don’t believe in such things. The team must play to win every game no matter who we face. Wins give you self-belief, they make you believe more in what you’re doing. But the thing that matters most is the attitude, and I’m convinced the attitude is right, the players train well, are highly-motivated and are doing very well in training.
“How long will it take for ‘my Milan’ to show results? It’s wrong to define as ‘my Milan’, Milan is of the Milanisti. I work on an idea, on the behavior. In the end, it’s the players who make the difference with their quality. I tried to get the team a mentality, I like my teams to play football, I like them to dominate the game, but in the end it’s the players who play a difference with their qualities. What point are we at, I don’t know… but I do know that the team always works to get better and there is no end to how much you can improve. In recent seasons, the Italian league has become ever-more balanced, there is much more balance between all the teams. The smallest details can make the biggest difference. A mistake on a set-piece can result in winning or losing a game, so it’s the small detail that makes all the difference.
“If I consider Paquetá more of a mezz’ala or a trequartista as he played up front in the last 30 minutes against Brescia? Against Brescia the game was a bit different as I added an extra midfielder so I pushed him forward. He is capable of doing both roles. If I need a player who is more offensive, more of a striker, more forward then I can play with that kind of player; if I need more of a midfielder then I can choose another player. The player who is chosen to be trequartista needs to know both – he needs to know to play as an attacker and as a trequartista.
“In what shape is Piątek and how do I put him in his best position? In these three days he’s trained well, I’ve been very happy with how he’s worked. Piątek shouldn’t be a player who thinks only about attacking the last 20 meters of the field, he’s not a ‘pirate’ player, he needs to be a complete striker, and he needs to do both phases of the game. I’ve been very happy this week because he’s done things differently. When he had to seek depth and add depth to the team that’s what he did.
“I chose André Silva [against Brescia] because I needed certain characteristics but that doesn’t mean that Piątek can’t do it too. At Milan you can’t always play long balls forward, you need to build-up as well and Piątek is capable of doing it because I’ve seen him to do it in training. So he has to leave behind his ultra-direct approach. He is a complete forward and I need to play as such, scoring must not be an obsession, he needs to find focus on playing well. And if he plays well the goals will come as a result. It’s more difficult to score when you play poorly, when you play well the goals will come as well. As to where his best position is, he will be a striker and not a midfielder [laughs]…
“If I have a path in my mind as to what formation to use considering I changed it from Udinese to Brescia or if it will depend on the overall development of the team? After 70 days, leaving aside the presence or absence of different players, I know how I want the team to play. I made some slight changes, moving Suso more to a position he prefers and also shifting Castillejo a little. That doesn’t mean that Suso can’t play as a trequartista, I’m certain of that.
“We didn’t change anything in our style of play, we just shifted positions slightly… it’s as if I played Hakan on the left midfield or the right midfield, in the end it makes no difference on how the team plays – they work on the same concepts and play on the same concepts. I can put a player in a position to express himself better in a certain role, but I continue to remain certain Suso can play as a trequartista.
“What do I say to those who don’t want Castillejo on the pitch and to those who say I’d rather play players who know me than stronger players who don’t know me? I find the question about Castillejo offensive, he’s a hard worker, an honest guy and I’m very pleased with him. As for strong players, who defines what player is strong and what player is not. The strength of a player is like shares in the stock market. I think I can tell the difference between strong and weak players, but at Milan there are no weak players. There are some that might be slightly better than others, but Milan is a very young team. So it’s completely possible that a very young player now will become stronger than someone who is currently considered better.
“My goal is to create a squad, I want 11 players who do everything well. I have to be credible with everyone. And I have 11-12 other players who I don’t field, who all want to play. And I need to be able to defend my choices as to who I pick to play. I make my decisions based on the team, how they work and how they develop. And I can tell you from past experience that there are players who hardly saw the field but over time they became untouchable. It’s down to their development, how they understand and assimilate concepts I try to impart.
“My decisions today, the 14th of September, are geared towards team growth, I will continue to always evaluate the players on a weekly basis, I don’t look at their ID papers, and I don’t look at the salary or how much they cost to buy. I want to see the hard work they put in training, otherwise I’d lose credibility.
“The criticism regarding the lack of use of the new arrivals and if Suso is the starting trequartista considering no trequartista was signed in the mercato? As I said earlier, I’ve got 23 problems, 11 play and 12 don’t and that will be the same every day. One game you might see one player, the next you’ll see someone else. I said it last week – I’m not interested in such questions.
“In the modern football, squads are composed of more than 20 players, and the first-team choices are based on the work in training. Bennacer, for example, had only trained twice before our first game, so there was no way I could field him. But in that same position, I have Biglia who’s a great player, and I must choose – one of Bennacer and Biglia, one will play and the other will stay out. I have no intention to discuss the transfer market, I am happy with the group I have, happy to be coaching them. Our trequartista can be a striker or a midfielder. It’s how you do the things that make the difference, it is how you work on the field that makes the difference.
“If we’ll have to wait a long time before we see Leão and Duarte playing? 11 players play, if Leão plays then someone else will have to sit out and if Duarte plays someone else has to sit out [smiles]. If the rules change I’ll be much happier [laughs]. At what point is Duarte in assimilating my style of play? Duarte has improved, he’s a very intelligent and curious guy. We film our training sessions and he goes to my staff on a daily basis to study and improve.
“But I’m unlikely change central defenders, the defense is a very particular unit. Romagnoli and Musacchio have been doing very well, Musacchio is a good player and has a strong leadership, don’t underestimate him. You [the journalist asking the question] don’t seem to like the old players too much do you [smiles]…? Do I need to play the new players…? There is no such thing as old or new, there is only Milan. That’s neither Tizio nor Caio, only Milan.
“Who will play tomorrow between Bennacer and Biglia? One of the two [laughs], that’s a certainty. And tomorrow when I field one, you’ll ask me why the other didn’t play… If I win, I’m right and if I don’t then you [the journalists] will be right. The ideal position on the pitch of Rebić? He says his ideal position is as a left winger, but in the national team he played as a striker and as a right winger. He’s in good condition, so I’m sure he can do well.
“If Theo Hernández will be able to start tomorrow? He’s recovered well, he’s an enthusiastic guy and he’s very lively. Medically, he’s fine but he needs to work on his fitness. But he will not play tomorrow. Ricardo Rodríguez and Theo? Rodríguez is a very consistent performer, he always brings the bread home. Hernández is slightly different, he’s more of an attacking fullback. He pushes forward more, he’s more of a physically arrogant player. They are two different players in terms of characteristics but I like both of them very much. As soon as Hernández is settled in to the style I want, we can use both alternating.
“What I expect from Hellas Verona? I have a lot of respect for Ivan Jurić. Even though he’s struggled over recent years, he’s a good coach. In our job, results are what decide everything. His team is aggressive, they have a good approach. It’s a team we have to be very careful with. In the last three days I’ve had all my players available, we’ve worked to make sure we’re ready to take on this opponent. I expect an intense game, a game in which we need to do well when in possession and when we’re not in possession. The objective is to play well, you must never underestimate an opponent. The difference between winning and losing can be the tiniest of margins. The team knows this and they know what I expect tomorrow.
“How do I see myself considering this morning in the press Arrigo Sacchi called Maurizio Sarri an ‘esthete’ and Antonio Conte ‘impatient’? I’m a humble worker of the vineyard [laughs]. What has changed since I said Milan need to hold their heads high and play football when I arrived? Nothing, we still want to play football with our heads held high.”